The industries most harmful to the planet

From the Industrial Revolution to the newest technologies developed, we have sought to improve our quality of life. Nevertheless, In this attempt to achieve the greatest comfort and enjoyment on a daily basis, we cause irreparable damage to the planet..

The modes of production, our consumption habits and even scientific advances have a dark side that casts its shadow on the environment. Many everyday products are made in the most damaging and least sustainable industries.

exist regulations rigid in the developed countries that, however, do not significantly reduce damage that industries produce. On the other hand, in undeveloped countries, industrial activity does not have regulations or is poorly managed. Thus, emissions and wastes are not properly managed.

Do you really know the consequences that the most damaging industries have on the environment? Are you aware that what you consider essential for your comfort actually causes great environmental damage? Have you considered alternatives to using the products that the most harmful industries produce to help save the planet?

Learn about the most harmful industries for the planet

Oil industry

Given its size and importance worldwide, the oil industry is considered among the most damaging industries for the environment. This is due to the number of aspects related to its management. The mishandling of crude oil during its extraction and transportation has been the cause of major ecological catastrophes in recent years. At least 130 oil spills in the last 50 years, with the consequences that they have on marine and coastal ecosystems. Examples abound:

  • The largest oil spill in history It occurred in 1991 during the Gulf War. They were 1,800,000 tons of crude oil that caused an oil slick of more than 4,000 km2. The impact that this ecological disaster had on marine life in the area was magnified by the particular shape of the Persian Gulf.
  • The Prestige disaster, a sunken oil tanker off the coast of Galicia, which spilled 77,000 tons of fuel oil into the sea. Their traces continued to appear for years in the form of chapapote. Its effect on the flora and fauna associated with the coasts was never quantified nor was justice done against the culprits.
  • The collision of the Atlantic Empress and the Aegean Captain (1979) off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago.
  • The ecological catastrophe caused by the Exxon Valdez spill (1989) when it collided with a coral reef in Alaska.
  • The sinking of the Deepwater Horizon platform (2010) that spilled oil for three months, affecting about 8,000 marine species.

Fashion industry

Considered the second of the most damaging industries, clothing manufacturing looks for alternatives that help reduce environmental damage. This industry not only produces pollution, but also misuse of natural resources such as water. Let’s see some examples:

  • The polyester –The most used fiber in the world to make clothing– requires 700 million barrels of oil a year to produce and 200 years to decompose.
  • The rayon or viscose is also an artificial material, made from cellulose. To obtain it, it is necessary to cut down 70 million trees a year.
  • And let’s see the cotton, a natural fiber. As a material, it is not polluting, but its production is. Cotton cultivation consumes 24% of the insecticides and 11% of the pesticides used per year worldwide. In addition, it is an extremely water-demanding crop.
  • To all this are added others processes that the textile raw material undergoes, as is the dyeing of clothes. The chemicals that are used generate wastewater that is not always treated and that pollutes natural sources of water and the oceans.
  • The fast fashion and the low cost They seem to have come to stay, but at the cost of great damage to the environment. The garments considered disposable have a short cycle of use, but at the same time a very long decomposition time producing a large amount of waste.

Metallurgical industry

The metallurgical industry is related to the mineral extraction and his processing for metal production. Its effect on the environment is more than evident, making it one of the most damaging industries for the planet. In the processes it develops, it produces as waste detergents, fats, acids and alkaline substances, all products that are not very biodegradable. It includes different production sectors with different wastes:

  • Steelworks, basic sector for supplying other industrial activities. As raw materials it uses coke, iron ore and scrap for the production of steel. The waste it produces contains compounds with cyanide, ammonia, phenols, acids and fats, mainly. Many of them are treated by solvent extraction, distillation, sedimentation or neutralization processes, but 100% recovery is never achieved.
  • Iron metallurgy, which uses large amounts of sand and solids, achieving a maximum recovery of 95%.
  • Copper metallurgy and its derivatives –bronze and brass–, in which fats, sulfuric acid and potassium dichromate are used. The waste is treated with electrolysis, ion exchange processes or the addition of coagulants for the precipitation and recovery of metals.
  • Gold metallurgy, in which mercury has traditionally been used for its extraction; it is currently in disuse due to the high pollution it produces.
  • Aluminum metallurgy, which transforms the bauxite into ingots or bars for use. In its processing, sodium hydroxide, sulfuric and nitric acids, nickel and detergents are used that contaminate wastewater. Processes are applied for its recovery, but 100% is never reached.

We are aware that our comfort cannot be above the destruction we are causing the planet. Let’s help find green alternatives to the most harmful industries on the planet. Not only for us, but for the inheritance that we are leaving to future generations.

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